Matchmaker: A series by Bandi

Matchmaker: A series by Bandi

Postby bandi138138 » Wed Apr 27, 2011 1:46 am

For a lack of a better place to post it, I'm posting it here. Check it out and let me know how you like it.

Matchmaker 1: The dilemma

Being a college student was indeed different from life in high school. Sure I still lived in southern California, in the same house. Sure I still hung out with my closest friend from high school. But there was just something that was definitely different. It might have been the fact that there weren’t any more teachers nagging at you for unfinished homework, or the implied additional responsibility that came with such indifference. But I felt like a totally different person.

“Well, for one thing, you don’t have to wear a uniform, which, by the way, is a tragedy because you have terrible taste in clothing…”

That would be my close friend I mentioned earlier: Andrew Haste. He has a biting quality in his words, which I didn’t mind… most of the time.
He was referring to our school uniform. You see, I attended a private school where discipline was taken very seriously. Pressed uniforms, organized dorms, and clean socks were always to be maintained. Yes, I said dorms. Contrary to what you may think, Andrew and I were not dorm-mates. But I hung out in his room so much, it wouldn’t have mattered. I was the one that always went to his dorm because he was glued to his computer, working on projects with graphics software and what not.
We were driving to my family’s restaurant after our lectures. Since his home’s pretty far from here, he lived in the school’s dorm (again) and pretty much mooched off my family for food, which was completely fine with our family, since he was practically a brother to me, and he helped out with the business. In fact, he was so practically an employee, that my mother hired him. There were hardly any difference anyway, and we’d much rather give the wage to him, rather than some asshole who slacks off and tries to slip his hand into the cash register.

“Well at least I’m enjoying my freedom in the outside world. I’m just slowly adjusting to my new found freedom. You, on the other hand, still live in a dorm. So I have an upper hand.”
“Are you kidding me? Eric, you just said how different college is from high school! College dorms are like the epitome of freedom. I bet I live more freely than you do. You live with your family!”
This was sadly true.
You see, I happen to be a Korean-American immigrant. I’m here on an investment VISA which is conditional based on my mother’s business doing very well. Naturally, it’s all hands on deck for the family, and I don’t get much time off. In fact, it’s true that I had more free time in the dorms.
It was a very cultural thing and I learned to live with it a long time ago. It was all fine, except it killed one aspect of my life: I had no time for romance.
Being one of the unfortunate few without a date at your high school dance is depressing enough, but when you know everyone else somehow managed to get dates even though they live in a dorm of an all guys school and you were the only one who sat on your ass and did nothing about it, well you feel like a loser and can’t help but feel that it’s your fault.
And the fact that I still didn’t have a relationship despite graduating from the dorms was even more depressing.

I shook the thought away.
“Whatever. That’s the least of my problems right now anyway.”
“Really? Cuz I can’t think of a more serious issue at the moment. I mean, when you’re 19 and haven’t gone out with anyone, I can’t help but feel worried, Eric.” Andrew paused for the dramatic effect.

“You….DO like girls… right?”

SMACK. After laying a very just slap up his head, I explained the dilemma that hung ominously over my head at the moment.
“My mother’s investment VISA’s about to expire. And since the business is doing so poorly, it’s unlikely that they’ll give an extension.”
“Woah… Does that mean you and your family will have to leave the country?”
“Well, I can apply for a student VISA since I’m a college student, but it’ll be difficult for my little sister and my mom.”
It was then that we drove into the parking lot of the restaurant and put a pause in the conversation.

After a very uneventful dinner shift, we sat down and had our own meals for the day.
“Mrs. Han. I heard about the Visa problem. I’m really sorry.”
“Thank you, Andrew. We’ll figure something out…” My mother replied with a weak smile. It was painful for me to see her looking more tired and old than I ever remembered her. So much was weighing upon her heart, living in a foreign country, running a business alone, and taking care of my sister and me.
“How’s Mr. Han taking the news? Anything that he can do from Korea?”
“The whole issues based on the business performing up to expectation, so there’s not much he can do in Korea.”
Andrew nodded and gnawed on his chopsticks deep in thought, until he carefully opened his mouth.
“you know, you could marry an American citizen…”
My sister, Diana snorts in the corner.
“Eric? Marry? Maybe in the next millennium…”
“You little brat!”
I tried hitting her with a spoon, but she was quick to maneuver away, Andrew laughing through the whole ordeal.
Nobody noticed my mother’s eyes rolling in deep thought.

That weekend, my mother woke me and my sister earlier than usual.
“Mom. It’s 6 O’ clock on a Saturday. We don’t head out work until 10. Why in the world would we have to wake up so early?”
“We’re closing the restaurant for the day. Now wake up.”
“Wait, wha-? That makes even less sense. So why are we waking up so early?”
“We’re going to L.A. to meet Mr. Kim. So wash up and get dressed. And I want you to dress nicely. You might want to consult with Diana.”

Jae Suk Kim was a childhood friend of my fathers. Apparently my dad saved him from drowning when they were children and they became good friends. Not to mention he always acted as if he still owed my dad a debt. Anyway, he was so close to my dad, we called him uncle Jae
After hearing many incredulous shrieks about how I was horribly dressed by my fashion savvy sister, we got in the car.
“So why are we closing the restaurant on a Saturday and heading to see uncle Jae in LA? Surely, this can’t be a social call?”
“We’re going to him to discuss about our immigration status.”
Uncle Jae’s family had gone through all the legal process of getting a green card, and eventually citizenship, so he was practically an expert in the process, and I could see going to see him would be a good idea. For one thing, he’d be enthusiastic to help, unlike the indifferent immigrant attorneys who only took your money and didn’t do anything. Trust me. We trusted an attorney with our green card case, and he didn’t submit practically half the required documents, and almost got us kicked out of the country. If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have to worry about our current predicament.
I sat behind the wheel, and my mother in the passenger seat, and had our sister jabber away about her school life from the back of the SUV all the way to LA.
Practically none of what she said got through to me, though. Even as I was driving, I felt a tingle in the tips of my finger as I was thinking about Uncle Jae’s daughter, Hae Young, or as her English name, Hailey.
She was the same age as me, and we’ve seen quite a lot of each other since we were kids, since our dad’s were so close. And we were pretty good friends too. True, we didn’t keep in contact for a while as we slipped into our adolescent ages, but we’d exchange a message or two once in a while. But the thought was not a simple nostalgia. You see, one thing about Hailey that always amazed me was that every time I saw her, she somehow managed to get more and more beautiful than the last encounter. No, I did not have any romantic affection for her beyond that of a friend. Being just really good friends, I never admitted this potentially awkward fact, but there was always a pleasant satisfaction of having such a beautiful girl in your list of acquaintances . In any case, there it was in the back of my mind, this pleasant expectation or anticipation of how prettier she would have become.

After a long drive, in which Diana slipped into a nap eventually, we arrived in LA. Uncle Jae ran a Korean mall that was incredibly large and comprehensive. He offered to have a space subleased to mom at a very low rent, but my mother declined the offer, saying that she wished to live close to her sister, who happened to live in La Jolla. I think she just declined because she didn’t feel too comfortable about having an advantage over other merchants and being the subject of people’s talk behind the back.
We soon saw him walking out to greet us himself, an amiable smile playing at his lips.
“Welcome! Welcome! It’s been much too long!”
He gave a friendly, but respectful, nod to my mother and a firm handshake to me and a pat in the back for my sister. Uncle Jae always had the uncanny ability to adequately show the appropriate ratio of respectful and friendly gestures based on who he dealt with. It was part of what made him such a respectable and revered in the Korean social circles.
Following right behind him was Hae Young herself.
“Hi, Hailey.” Diana took the first initiative and greeted Hae Young first. While Diana liked to call Hae Young by her English name, I preferred to call her by her Korean name. I liked how it rolled off the tip of your tongue. Well, if you pronounced it properly anyway. Americans tend to say out “Hae” like “Hey, Young!” The first syllable more actually is barely pronounced, like “H’young”
Anyway, I greeted her as well, and extended a hand to shake, but she opened her arms and embraced me. “Don’t act like some stranger. You and I are like brother and sister.”
I awkwardly returned the hug and carefully glanced at Uncle Jae, who gave me a knowing smile. I shrugged.
“Hae Young, why don’t you show around Eric the downtown area?”
I’ve seen downtown LA more than enough times, and never fancied it. But I wasn’t dumb enough to not realize that he wished to speak to my mother in private. The three of us were about to head out, when my mother held Diana back. “Just the two of you should go together.”
Perhaps I should have realized that something was off then.

There were many places for us to hang out around in K-town. But since we had pretty much hung around every possible place to the point of getting sick of it, we decided to just mill around walking.
“It’s been a while, huh?”
“Yeah. You haven’t changed much.” Hae Young responded.
“Well, you have. You’ve really.... matured.” It was a poor choice of words, but I wasn’t quite sure what to say, and the words had already slipped out of my mouth before I could think about it. It was true though. She had grown to be a lady. Not yet a woman, but not still a girl.
Hae Young merely gave me a questionable glance and allowed the statement to slide.
“Look. I know, considering the nature of our reunion, that things could be a little... awkward for the two of us...”

Awkward? True, it had been a long time since we had seen each other, but it was a bit disappointing she would find our meeting awkward.

“But I want you to know, I still think of you as a good friend.”

There was almost a line drawn in that statement. Hae Young had an encouraging hand upon my shoulder, but it was as if an invisible barrier that suddenly appeared that had not been there before.
Where in the world did this come from any way? We always have been friends and neither of us had any interest in pursuing a relationship with one another.
Whatever the case was, something about hearing the ‘just friends’ talk was still enough to throw you off your day.
“Ummm... Ok..?”
She gave a friendly smirk and playfully patted my cheeks.
“Let’s head back. The adults should be done discussing by now.”
“Discussing what?”
She gave me a exasperated look. “Haha. Funny.”

When we returned to Uncle Jae’s shop, the three conspirators were waiting for me with different expressions each: Uncle Jae with a satisfactory smile, Diana with a gleefully knowing one and my mother with an expression of remorse.
Even then I did not know the how much my life was about to be shaken.
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Re: Matchmaker: A series by Bandi

Postby Phauss » Wed Apr 27, 2011 1:42 pm

Yessss! Awaiting the next installment. We need more of this in the forum.
We are each a beautiful and unique snowflake that will melt in hell.

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Now I'm in hot water with the Japanese mafia.
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Re: Matchmaker: A series by Bandi

Postby bandi138138 » Fri Apr 29, 2011 12:20 am

I figured you of all people might like it.
I'm wondering how others think.
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Re: Matchmaker: A series by Bandi

Postby Forb » Tue May 03, 2011 9:04 am

Is this fiction? I can't quite tell.
It kind of reads as a journal entry. Maybe that's what you're going for.

Just hard to tell. It's interesting, though. Will be reading more if you put it out.

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Re: Matchmaker: A series by Bandi

Postby bandi138138 » Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:28 pm

Yes, it's totally fiction. Lol
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